Is the current heatwave give you cause for concern about the temperature in your workplace?  Are you feeling hot and bothered?

In this blog we will look at the what the law tells us, how to protect your skin and we will share some top tips for working in the heat and sun.

If workers get too hot, they can become dizzy or feel fainting.  In very hot conditions, your body’s blood temperature rises. If it goes over 39°C, you are at risk of heat stroke or collapse.

As an employer, you must assess the risks and put in place any necessary prevention or control measures.

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 does not specify a maximum temperature for workers, it states that inside temperatures must be reasonable.  It also tells us that employers must provide ‘effective and suitable ventilation’.

Although the Workplace Regulations only apply to indoor workplaces, that doesn’t mean you don’t also have a duty to your people who are working outside.  In fact the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 tells us we have a general duty to protect the Health & Safety of the workforce.  The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 talks about assessing the risks which our employees may come into contact with, this includes hot temperatures and exposure to the sun.

Keeping cool inside

If it too hot and humid in the workplace and staff are feeing uncomfortable with the heat there are a number of things which can be done.

  • Keep hydrated
  • Relax the office dress code
  • Moving people away from windows.
  • Install blinds.
  • Additional fans to help people feel cooler
  • Flexible working, starting earlier or finishing later to avoid the miday heat.
  • Call in the icrecream van!

Protect your skin

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

If work outside for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. You should take particular care if you have:

  • fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
  • red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
  • a large number of moles.

Even a mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and make it peel. Too much sun speeds up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

If you are outside, what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Keep your top on (ordinary clothing made from close woven fabric, such as long sleeved workshirt and jeans stops most UV)
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

How can you manage those outdoor hot environments

  • Reschedule work to cooler times of the day
  • Provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas
  • Provide free access to cool drinking water
  • Introduce shading in areas where individuals are working
  • Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress

Anyone singing the song feeing hot hot hot by Arrow yet?  ……………………………….   olay olay olay olay olay olay olay olay

Source HSE website www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

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